Living more sustainably as a student: simple tips & tricks

Life as a student is often hectic, and the budget is limited. Even with little time and budget, you can make sure you live sustainably and regionally. With a few simple tips and tricks, it’s not that difficult.

1. Second-hand and upcycling

Why second-hand and upcycling? Second-hand goods reduce the need for new products, thus saving resources and energy.

  • Clothes: Visit second-hand stores in your area or use online platforms such as Sellpy, Vinted, eBay classifieds or Willhaben. You can often find unworn or very high-quality items at bargain prices on online platforms.
  • Household items & furniture: Online platforms, as mentioned above, offer great opportunities to find furniture and household items of all kinds. With a little creativity, you can turn old furniture into unique pieces.

2. Transportation in sustainable

Why sustainable transportation? Reducing car traffic reduces CO2 emissions and helps to improve air quality. How can you do this easily and cheaply?

Riding a bike, if you don’t own one yet, you can get one cheaply on Willhaben or eBay Classifieds. Cycling is not only good for the environment, it’s also good for you.

Use buses, subway trains, streetcars or express trains to get around quickly, cheaply and in a climate-friendly way. Many cities offer their own student fares and cards.

If you do need a car, car sharing options are ideal. There are no high purchase costs, as with your own car, and you still have complete freedom. Carpooling is very suitable for longer distances.

3. Save energy

Saving energy not only means doing something good for the climate, but also saving money. Simply implemented for the climate and with energy efficiency you also reduce your electricity bill. A win-win situation.

One simple option is to use power strips or power distribution strips. Switch off your electrical appliances completely by unplugging the power strip or using one with a switch.

LED lamps, replacing old light bulbs with new LED lamps is no longer as big an investment in the future as it once was. LED lamps last longer and consume less electricity.

Saving water is one of the most important points. Not every country has enough water, so we should not take water for granted. Turn off the water while you wash the dishes, brush your teeth or soap yourself.

4. Avoiding and separating garbage

How and why avoid waste? Less waste means lower disposal costs and less impact on the environment. Use reusable containers such as drinking bowls and storage containers instead of disposable products. You can take your own containers to most university canteens. If it has to be a “coffee to go”, it is best to take your own cup with you or at least do without the plastic lid.

Shopping without packaging, in many cities there are already unpackaged fruit and vegetables in the supermarket or drugstore markets with refill stations. Farmers’ markets are also a good option. If this is a bit too much for your budget, just make sure you take your own bag with you and buy as much fruit and vegetables that are unpackaged, regional and seasonal.

Waste separation is slightly different in every city, but not complicated and very easy and quick to implement at home. In most cases, waste is separated into residual waste, wastepaper, light glass, dark glass, cans and plastic.

5. Cooking sustainably

Sustainable shopping and cooking is one way of counteracting food waste and supporting a healthy, nutritious diet. Less food waste also means saving money.

Meal Prep is the perfect way to counteract food waste. Plan your meals in advance, you save time and prevent yourself from buying expensive and usually unhealthy meals.

Use leftovers to conjure up new, delicious dishes. You can find food blogs online that specialize in using up leftovers. With the “Too good to go” app, you can pick up food boxes from the supermarket, baked goods from the bakery or even a dish from your favorite restaurant. This saves you money and the food is not thrown away.

Veggie or vegan. The various plant-based diets have a smaller ecological footprint. You don’t have to become a frutarian straight away, but it’s a great start to plan one or two vegetarian or vegan meal days.

6. Exchange and share

Swapping and sharing means less consumption and thus reduces the need for new products, promotes community and conserves resources.

Swap or share books. Swap the books you have already read with other students or buy them together. University books are usually not particularly cheap. You can also give books from your free time a new lease of life by taking them to bookcases in your city. Someone else will be delighted with the novel.

Swap clothes. Do you love the style of your fellow student or colleague? Why not ask if you’d like to meet up for a clothes-swap party? It’s an easy way to freshen up your closet without having to spend money and have lots of fun and a great evening.

Tools and household items are easy to borrow or share. Instead of buying expensive tools and household items that you don’t use often, you can share them with your flatmates, friends or neighbors. In Germany, there is the platform, where you can search for what you need in your neighborhood.

Living sustainably and regionally as a student doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. With a little planning and routine and the right strategy, you as a student can make a positive contribution to our climate and environment while keeping an eye on your budget. Try it out and see for yourself how much fun an environmentally friendly lifestyle can be. Every step counts!